Meru County steering group has identified several factors to mitigate the ravages of persistent drought in the region that led to acute shortage of food.
Local County Commissioner Fred Ndunga who chaired the county’s drought management committee meeting on the drought situation assured residents that government was committed to ensure that nobody suffered from lack of food due to natural calamities.
He said the monthly national drought management authority food situation reports usually come in handy to inform and guide the government on where there was need for urgent intervention to save human and livestock across the country.
In his report, County Drought Management Coordinator Godana Nuro appealed to people living in the arid and semi-arid parts of the county to not only focus on indigenous livestock farming but also try their luck in fast growing and drought resistant crops which can attain maturity for harvest with little rainfall.
Nuro said about six sub-counties were adversely affected but were put on food aid to sustain them through into the next season.
He said it would be a very unfair assumption if anybody would imagine Meru County enjoys food security in all the sub-counties, adding that over one million people living in the county depended on livestock and small-scale crop farming for their source of income and more often, they experienced drought due to inadequate rainfall.
“In many parts of the county, rainfall is normally erratic and unevenly distributed in terms of time and space,” Nuro said.
The coordinator said other factors contributing to drought and food insecurity included crop pests, livestock diseases while many of the farmers were not financially able to afford the expensive pesticides for spraying and applying on the affected animals and crops.
Nuro said Meru County was not spared from conflicts resulting from uncontrolled livestock migration from neighbouring counties into the county in pursuit of water and pasture.
“Some of these conflicts among herders have turned fatal in some areas at the expense of public security, as both parties strived to secure enough water and pasture for their livestock to be able to sustain livelihoods,” Nuro said.
However, Nuro said all was not lost as the national government had partnered with other like-minded players to run public sensitization programmes and the importance of having adequate food and pasture storage facilities to enhance storage for use during the dry spell.
By Makaa Margaret